Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The book I own that I most enjoy owning sits unused, in tight care. I’ve never read more than a paragraph, and have only opened it with my grubby hands a couple times.

It’s a 15th century copy of Plutarch's Lives. I’ll stick to my paperback version, thank you very much :-). Besides, it’s not easy to read; the way of printing back then has some of the s’s looking too similar to f’s, and it’s annoying.

Anyway, from Plutarch’s Lives I found this description of Valentine’s day’s competition (a Feb 15th pagan holiday). This seems to be what the Pope of the time tried to replace and he succeeded in doing so. I'll leave it to you to decide if it was a good move:

It was, namely, the festival of the Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that it procures an easy labor to those who are with child, and makes those conceive who are barren.

[Sigh] I needed the levity... "Shaggy thongs"...

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(or Merry Lupercalia, if you're into that)


Loyalist (with defects) said...

I just love history. So full of wonderful footnotes that add color to an otherwise drab procession of wars and termoil.

thanks and Happy Lupercalia to you as well. :-)

Paul said...

Shaggy thongs caught my attention, too.